STS-133 - Space shuttle Discoverys External Tank Repairs Tested. Print
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Saturday, 18 December 2010 21:29

Space shuttle Discovery’s external tank was filled with more than 535,000 gallons of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen during a tanking test at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Dec. 17. The test was conducted to help verify repairs made to cracks on the tops of two 21-foot-long stringers on the spacecraft’s external fuel tank. It also verified repairs made to the Ground Umbilical Carrier Plate, or GUCP, which leaked and caused Discovery’s launch scrub on Nov. 5.

Shuttle teams monitored the test from Kennedy’s Launch Control Center in Firing Room 4 as the countdown clock ticked down as it would during a real launch attempt. The Final Inspection Team conducted a survey of the tank exterior, carefully examining the repaired areas. Eighty-nine strain gauges and thermal sensors recorded movement and temperatures from the intertank area during the test. Sensor readings will continue to be recorded through Dec. 18, when the tank returns to ambient temperature.

Analysts expect the assortment of instruments on Discovery's external tank to produce more than six terabytes of test data, which will take some time to review. The information will be used to test hypotheses about what caused the two stringers on the tank to crack during last month's countdown.

Managers and engineers will analyze all the test data before setting a new launch date. Discovery's next launch opportunity is no earlier than 1:37 a.m. EST on Feb. 3.


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Last Updated on Saturday, 25 December 2010 13:10
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